Wednesday, January 28, 2015

French Fry Diary 645: Laundromat Luncheonette

This memory is a very old one. When I was a little kid, my family didn't have the kind of things that other families had. We weren't poor, we were never poor. But let's just say we were a bit slower on the curve from everyone else.

It was a long time before we had a color TV, a stereo, a microwave oven, a dishwasher (well, maybe we had one of those, it was me), cable TV, an air conditioner, and a washer and dryer. Actually a few of those things we never had, but for the purposes of this entry, it's the washer and dryer I want to talk about.

No washer and dryer meant weekly (at least) trips to the local laundromat in the next town over in Berlin. All the dirty clothes would be put into pillowcases, packed into the car, and a few hours would be spent at the laundromat. There are many things to remember about that place. There were the full color picture Bibles chained to the bottom of the chairs, the Canada Dry Sport Cola in the soda machine, meeting an African-American boy for the first time and playing under the folding tables, and the penny gumball machines that also had peanuts and pistachios in them.

Despite all that, it was easy for a little kid to get bored. Sometimes I would go watch the car wash, and sometimes I would walk around the entire strip mall building the laundromat was in. It also included a dry cleaners, a paint store, a luncheonette, a liquor store at one end and a Sears pick-up center at the other. Honestly I think only the laundromat still remains, everything else has changed.

There's an AutoZone where the Sears used to be. I have fond memories of the Wish Book catalog at Christmas, and my dad getting his boat there, with what my childlike memory says were S & H Green Stamps. Bonus points if you remember them. And the liquor store at the other end of the strip is now a Risqué Video.

Every once in a while my mom would send me up to the luncheonette to get a snack to share while we waited for the laundry to get done. The snack? What else? The favorite fried food. I still remember the luncheonette, like a tiny diner squeezed into a strip mall-sized store - a store length counter with maybe half a dozen small booths along the opposite wall. The name however escapes me. Was it Nan's Luncheonette? Maybe. It could've also been Pat's, or Lynn's or something completely different.

The crinkle cut French fries, probably deep-fried, in a small paper box - circa the very early 1970s, were thirty-five cents, a quarter and a dime. At the time, with a comic book costing a quarter, this seemed like a fair price. It certainly beats the eight-dollar fries at the Old Homestead Steakhouse.

This is a very old memory, sharing French fries with my mom at the Berlin laundromat, but it's a very good one. I'm going to go do some laundry now, and maybe have some fries too. And I definitely miss my mom, and my childhood.

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